Old photo sparks mem­o­ries

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - DAMIAN BESTER

AN old photo in a re­cent is­sue of the Gazette sparked some mem­o­ries of days gone by for New Norfolk’s liv­ing leg­end Ken O’Brien.

The World War II vet­eran, re­tired busi­ness­man and lo­cal his­to­rian says he was in­spired by a photo of fel­low vet­eran, lawyer and politi­cian the late Joe Dixon fill­ing up his BSA mo­tor­cy­cle dur­ing one of his first vis­its to New Norfolk.

The photo ac­com­pa­nied a story about the 85th an­niver­sary of the law firm Mr Dixon es­tab­lished here in 1933, now man­aged by son Stephen Dixon.

“The young man serv­ing out the petrol to Joe Dixon was Don Espie,” Mr O’Brien told the Gazette. “Don and I went to school to­gether, although he was quite a few years older than me. Af­ter he left school he went to work at the garage where this photo was taken, that's along­side the den­tist's surgery in Bur­nett St.

“The garage there was only re­ally an old tin shed and it didn't do too well. Af­ter it closed down, Les Sal­ter opened a gro­cery shop in there.”

Mr O’Brien re­calls that along­side this gro­cery shop the Sal­ters built a house for their sis­ter Ella, in­clud­ing a small shopfront.

“She made cakes and used to sell them in a shop win­dow which was re­ally the front room of the house.”

A two-storey den­tal surgery was built next door to Ella Sal­ter’s shop dur­ing the De­pres­sion years, and this still stands.

“A den­tist of French origin named Pete Des­mazure lived up­stairs and ran the den­tal surgery,” Mr O’Brien said. “He was there for many years and then that surgery was taken over later on by Gavin Pot­ter af­ter World War II.”

Later in the 1960s and ’70s when branded petrol sta­tions started pop­ping up ev­ery­where, the block oc­cu­pied by the old garage and Ella Sal­ter’s house was bought by Golden Fleece and they built a ser­vice sta­tion there.

Mr O’Brien said the even­tual re­sult was that there were soon too many petrol sta­tions in New Norfolk.

Golden Fleece closed and the site was later taken over by Beau­re­paires.

Don Espie, who had been pho­tographed pump­ing petrol for Joe Dixon, joined the Royal Aus­tralian Air Force as a me­chanic at the start of World War II.

“He was sent to Eng­land as most of the air force peo­ple were, and he was sta­tioned up in Scotland where he worked on the air­craft that were go­ing out hunt­ing the Ger­man Uboats in the North Sea.

“He mar­ried a Scot­tish lady there and I re­mem­ber they came back with much fan­fare af­ter the war.”

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